Kintpuash, aka: Captain Jack – Modoc Warrior

Captain Jack was hanged for killing General Canby during peace negotiations.

Captain Jack was hanged for killing General Canby during peace negotiations.

Kintpuash, more commonly known as Captain Jack, was a famous Modoc warrior and subchief who fought in the Modoc War.

He was born about the year 1840 but little is known of his early life. When he grew up he became a subchief of the Modoc tribe and a leader of a hostile group in the Modoc War of (1872–73). In 1864, he had agreed to leave his ancestral home and live on the Klamath Reservation with the Klamath and Yahooskin tribes. However, the Modoc and the Klamath were historic enemies; the Modoc’s relationship with the Yahooskin was not much better. In 1870, Kintpuash and 371 Modoc fled the reservation to the lava beds of California. The Modoc War began on November 28, 1872, when the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Major John Green sent troops from Fort Klamath to move the Modoc, “by force if necessary,” back to the reservation. However, the Modocs strong defensive position frustrated numerous attempts by U.S. troops to dislodge them.

In April 1873, a peace commission headed by General Edward Richard Canby met with Jack and several of his men. However, at the meeting, Captain Jack shot the unarmed Canby and the Modoc fled. The Army then pursued Kintpuash with great vigor, capturing him on June 1st. On October 3, 1873, Captain Jack, John Schonchin, Black Jim, and Boston Charley were hanged at Fort Klamath. The remainder of the surviving Modoc were sent to reservations in Oklahoma and back to the Klamath Reservation in Oregon.

By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated February 2020.

Also See:

Diminishing the Indians in California

The Modoc – Fighting in the Lava Beds

Modoc War

Notable Native Americans on the Frontier